[irevuo] How the Art You Consume Determines the Quality of Your Work

In 2009, during an interview, radio host Ira Glass shared rare insights into what it means to be creative; he managed to pull into focus the kind of insights that are just at the edge of our mind’s peripheral vision.

What drives us to create in the first place is not a desire to play god, but rather our hunger for art.

[irevuo] Hello Rejection, My Old Friend

Whenever we submit a part of our soul that we translated into words, we do so armed with nothing but the hope that the person reading our work will understand it.

Sometimes they do. Most times they don’t.

Rejection scrapes the heart. But, well, there’s nothing to do about it. In fact, rejection is as much a part of being a writer as punching those damn keys. It’s as much a part of being a writer as the edits and the rewrites and the social media marketing.

[irevuo] Should You Self-Publish? These Questions Will Help You Decide

So, you have a finished manuscript, and now you’re ready to share it with as many readers as possible.

In order to do that, you must choose one of two paths: either self-publish your book yourself, or go the traditional route and try to find a publisher.

Deciding on which route to take means that you’ve got to figure out a couple of things about yourself first, about your book, and about your ability to effectively market (and enjoy the process) both yourself as an author and your book.

Now, let’s discuss the essential questions to ask yourself if you’re trying to decide if self-publishing your book is the best available option for you.

Cold Shower Challenge Day 13

Damnit. I didn’t touch wood the other day when I said rough nights were getting fewer and farther between.

Last night sucked. No other word for it. I couldn’t get comfortable. I went out and sat on the couch for a bit, then laid down and finally got some sleep… Until the 7 am alarm woke me. Why didn’t I turn that off?

Back to bed. Woke again at 9 am. Well, today is gonna suck. Might as well get on with it.

Milo. Shows. Check.

Shower time… awwww yeah… this will wake me up!

Music. Check. Timer set for ten minutes. Check.

Dive in. Oh damn, that’s cold! I’m awake!

Go through the routines, rocking out to Mile Cyrus – See you again.

Don’t judge me. Then Talking Heads – Psycho Killer. Weird combo. lol.

Shampoo. Conditioner. Damnit dickhead, you did it again. Stare at my left hand with the conditioner in it for a few seconds. AHA moment!

Shampoo in the right hand. Do the repeat deal with the right hand. And then condition! Nailed it!

Still cold as I wander, and I wonder as I wander. What the timer is up to. Standing in the cold water, skin turning a little blue.

HaHa.. I’m a smurf.

I start cleaning the suds off the glass shower screen…. wait…

wtf are you doing Papa Smurf??? GTFO!!

oh yeah. lol.

6 minutes. Doubled the time in the cold shower from when I started. Think I might be getting used to this.

Cold Shower Challenge Day 12

Up at 7 am today.

Why?

I don’t know. I’ve been asking myself for the last 3 hours. lol. Not really, but it was weird. We just bounced awake. Then we bounced on the bed.

And by “we” I mean Keegan.

And by “bed” I mean the bed and me. I’m like his springboard. And his jungle gym. His Mount Kosciuszkio. His tree. His rock. His everything.

So after he used my nuts to jump off me with one misplaced foot. I was more than up and awake.

Pain can have that effect. You ever been sleepy while in pain? Without medication to knock you out or dull the pain? No. I used to work a lot of long hours, night shift, split shift, weird-ass shifts. When I got sleepy driving home, usually after 12 hour nights or nights/days, all the usual tricks weren’t working anymore. Radio up loud, windows down, slapping myself across the face. One day, I thought, what if I gave myself a camel bite. Don’t hold back. Just … BAM..

My eyes watered. My inner thigh was screaming at me. I was awake. More effective than any other technique I ever used.

Anyway, I set up my little man and then set myself up.

I didn’t feel cold today, as I was wandering around the house. Even in the ensuite, I wasn’t feeling cold, despite the window still being open.

So would the cold shower feel colder today, based on my theory from yesterday…

I do not like being right all the time.. and I’m not, not all the time. But in this particular moment, on this particular day.

Yes. Yes, I was. It was fucking cold and it was still fucking cold 3 minutes in. I persisted of course.

The timer went off at 5 min mark. I need to find out if I can stop it turning my music off. Maybe I should just set it for ten minutes now?

Over 6 minutes today, so happy with that effort considering my brain was screaming at me…

ARE YOU CRAZY??!! WE WERE RIGHT! IT IS COLDER WHEN YOU ARE WARM FIRST! GET OUT! YOU WERE WARM! Why are you doing this to us?

Shut up brain or I’ll go back to killing you with beer.

Mmmmm….. beer.

Cold Shower Challenge Day 11

Today I had an appointment for 9 am. It was a fasting blood test appointment. So I set the alarm early because let’s get this done so I can eat damnit.

Keegan and I both wake up. Cloud cover is gone, bright Australian morning sunlight had flooded the room.

Time for a tickle fight. I win. lol.

I check the time as the alarm hasn’t gone off yet. 6 am.

6 AM!!

Oh well, suns out, guns out.

Now here’s some background info. I have Google home assistant and as I’ve said, I call it bitch, but that’s just in the app. Google Assistant won’t respond to that. It’s either Hey Google or Okay Google.

Until a little while ago I discovered it’ll respond to Hey Doodle or Okay Doodle. So now I have…

Doodle Home Assistant

Anyway, here we are this morning. Suns out, Guns out.

Hey Doodle, what’s the temperature?

It’s currently 12 degrees.. okay, let me just put these guns away.

Morning Milo for my little man while he watches his shows. I dive in.

I noticed the other day that I still have my bathroom window wide open. I particularly noticed it this chilly morning. I should shut it one of these days. I have a theory. If I’m cold before getting in the shower, it won’t feel as cold.

Today I actually checked the shower gell and yep. Lather up, take a wander. Says it right there on the bottle.

The timer alarm went off this morning. I finally get out a minute later because the alarm just keeps on going, and going. It also stops my music.

Shaking my booty to the alarm just…. isn’t the same.

Cold Shower Challenge Day 10

I had a bit of a rough night last night. Now that I think about it, these are getting fewer and farther between. So that’s a good thing.

Anyway, my point is. We slept in. We woke up at 10am and it’s been a while since we’ve done that, I still ask why we can’t do it on a Saturday or Sunday?

As a result, straight into Milo and then breakfast. I don’t like breakfast for Keegan to be too late in the day, and as I’ve always been a breakfast guy, he’s not missing breakfast and neither am I.

Then I dive into the shower, music is cranked, the timer is on. Good to go. I wonder as I start my routine if my shower gel also tells me to wander for a bit? Or course I didn’t check it.

Shampoo… wander for a bit.

Conditioner in the palm…

Oh shit… the wrong one. I’m supposed to repeat. I’m supposed to do shampoo again, before conditioner. What do I do? I’m standing there, staring at my palm, with a blob of conditioner on it.

Frozen.

Literally.

Oh wow, my palm is like, blue. I must be cold, doesn’t feel THAT cold. Not anymore. So I dump the conditioner and repeat with the shampoo. THEN the conditioner.

As I’m wandering… on the spot… for a minute or two. My timer went off. By the time I get out and turn it off.

5 min and 30 seconds.

BOOM. Mic Drop.

Electrocution.

Kidding… a quick way to warm up though. lol.

What Do You Want?

What’s the difference between working for a major corporation and being damned to Hell? One is a series of unending tortures inflicted upon you by sinister forces who delight in your pain and the other is run by Satan. The other thing they have in common is both inspired this story.

So, you’re the Devil?” Jordan asked, “I thought that the Devil was… male.”

First, I am a devil,” corrected Marchosias, “Secondly, the Devil, the undisputed ruler of Hell, is known as Lucifer Morningstar.”

Jordan took a sip of coffee and pondered this new information.

So there’s more than one Devil?”

Lower case devils, yes. Uppercase, only the one.”

Does that mean the bible is right? There’s a God and Heaven? The Earth was created in seven days?”

Marchosias pushed her golden hair behind her ears and smiled. Most mortals found it disarming. She had honed this combination to perfection over centuries.

Some of it is right on the money, but consider the source.”

What do you mean?” 

Well, imagine you had a fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend,” began the devil.

Girlfriend.”

You’ll find Hell is surprisingly tolerant, so no worries about that. Back to this hypothetical. After the fight, you go to your friends and talk about what happened. She is doing the same thing. However, you are both telling different stories.”

So the bible is a lie,” stated Jordan.

What I’m saying is everyone is the hero of their own story,” suggested Marchosias.

Even fallen angels?”

Especially fallen angels.”

Marchosias reheated her coffee with a gesture and took a sip. Delicious. A quarter’s worth of coffee for four dollars was one of Hell’s best ideas. 

I have so many questions,” Jordan blurted out.

Clearly!” the devil replied with a laugh, “But let’s get back to why we’re here. What can we do, to get your soul?”

So souls are real?”

She smiled as if she meant it. Why did everyone want to talk so much these days? 

Jordan, if souls weren’t real, this would all be a waste of time.”

Makes sense.”

Excellent! Now, what do you want? Anything and everything is on the table!”

Fame?”

Very popular!”

Jordan tapped his fingers on the table.

And you’ve done this before?”

Many, many times.”

Anyone I might’ve heard of?”

If I told you, you would be shocked!”

Can you give me one name?”

With a wicked grin, she leaned in and whispered into his ear. Jordan’s eyes went wide.

NO!”

Absolutely.”

It doesn’t make sense!”

With a shrug, Marchosias smiled.

But they’re so talented! Why would they do this?”

The universe is full of undiscovered talent. Getting your break, that’s something else entirely.”

Wow! I mean…,” he grasped for what to say but ended up just saying wow again.

Also anyone who gained fame on the internet, that’s us.”

Ewww! People sold their immortal souls to be internet famous?”

As I said, we don’t judge in Hell.”

Huh.”

Not everyone likes the spotlight. But there must be something you want? Riches? An endless supply of gorgeous lovers? Power?”

Superpowers?”

Why not? You could be the world’s first Super-Hero! Or Super-Villain!” the devil offered.

So, you can offer me anything? Anything I can think of?” 

She held her arms wide open and uttered, “Literally anything you can dream of!”

Jordan looked her straight in eyes and said, “I want you to release all the souls you tricked into signing contracts with and to stop the business of tempting people, whoever or wherever they are. Universe wide.”

Silence of a sort followed this. The sounds of people ordering coffee, eating scones, enjoying free wifi, working on novels and screenplays filled the cafe. Then, an explosion of laughter. Marchosias had not laughed that hard in centuries. When she finally stopped she said, “Thank you! That was hilarious, really. Now, what do you actually want?”

I just told you.”

No, you didn’t.”

Yes, I did.”

She smirked but then looked at him. Not joking.

You would sacrifice your soul for strangers? Greedy, stupid strangers?”

No-”

Aha!”

-because of the terms of my wish, everyone who signed a contract will Hell would be released.”

That’s not how it works.”

If you fulfill my wish, then that’s exactly how it works.”

 

Marchosias was about to counter but stopped and thought. A moment later, she replied, “We can’t do that.”

I thought you said anything?”

Hell is not a charity!”

If you don’t have the power…”

Her eye twitched and her fangs began to protrude, ever so slightly. It was not going the way it usually did.

Power? Would you like a demonstration of the infernal power of the underworld?”

Okay…”

Crack! Marchosias transformed into an enormous, fire-breathing wolf with griffin’s wings and the tail of a snake. Panic ensued in the cafe. 

BEHOLD ME IN MY TRUE FORM! LET TERROR BE YOUR ONLY COMPANION! FEAST ON FEAR AS YOUR BLOOD BOILS IN YOUR FETID BODIES! THIS IS BUT A TASTE OF WHAT IS TO COME!”

Fire erupted and oily smoke roiled from jagged rents in the floor and walls. Marchosias reared back and breathed a gout of hellfire that engulfed everything.

And then it was over. All traces of Hell vanished. People shook their heads and slowly returned to what they had been doing, the brief, waking nightmare fading.

Powerful enough for you?” asked Marchosias who returned to her human form.

Jordan was pale and sweaty. He picked up his cup with both hands and drank.

Impressive,” he finally said.

Just so we’re clear on things.”

Very.”

So, what do you want?” she asked.

He took a deep breath and said, “I told you what I want.”

Are you shitting me?” sputtered the devil.

I am not.”

That’s not going to happen. Pick. Something. Else.”

He took a moment.

I’m going to pass.”

You can’t do that!”

Why not?”

We’ve had a meeting. You’re committed.”

I didn’t sign anything, we don’t have an agreement.”

That’s not how it works!” she hissed.

Isn’t it? From all I’ve read, Hell is big on rules.”

She frowned and her eye smoldered a dark crimson.

Why in the name of all that is unholy are you doing this?”

Honestly, curiosity.”

That is new,” the devil growled.

I always wondered why someone would sell their soul. It seemed like an obviously bad deal, like subprime mortgages.”

We’re very proud of that one,” she said with a wistful smile.

That tracks. But I wanted to see if it was real. Hell, Heaven, all that stuff. And now I know, so thanks for that.”

You are not at all welcome. By the way, I left out a lot of details so you actually don’t know the real deal with the universe.”

I know more than I did before.”

Marchosias stared at him, then asked, “Did you think Hell would grant your wish, did you?”

It seemed like a long shot, but you miss all the shots you don’t take.”

Fine, if you’re not going to play ball, get out of here before I drag you back to perdition,” she snapped.

If you could do that, you’d be scooping people up with, I don’t know, monster trucks? Rules are rules. Even for devils.”

Have a terrible life, knowing that your wildest dreams will go unrealized,” the devil churlishly spat at him.

We’ll see.”

With that, he left. Marchosias thought to herself, ‘We have to stop recruiting through LinkedIn.’

Cold Shower Challenge Day 8

Enjoying the read? Sign up https://jamesdarmstrong.substack.com/

Never miss a crazy random story, that is my life.

So here we are, Day 8. I was feeling like I should be noticing some benefits now. Besides the extra focus and energy afterwards.

Then I realised I hadn’t discussed the apparent healing benefits I’ve noticed. A year ago I developed a persistent ulcer on my lower leg. Where bone had broken through when I’d had my accident. The skin and surrounding area had never been the same since. Coupled with reduced blood flow to my legs also as a result of the accident.

The infection in the ulcer kept coming and going for 12 months. Even after 2 courses of high dosage antibiotics. Then recently it was discovered I had a staph infection in my lower leg at the ulcer site. Now if you’ve read about my accident -> https://jamesdarmstrong.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/the-day-i-died/ you’ll know that getting a staph infection anywhere in my leg, left leg specifically, is pretty dangerous. As in losing the leg dangerous.

Back on strong antibiotics again, as much as I hate them, I like my leg where it is a lot more.

Anyway, ran out of antibiotics and it looks like the infection has gone, but the ulcer still hasn’t healed. I ran out of them the day I started the cold showers too, funny enough. And it is now looking better than it has in 12 months. The damaged skin around it, from the bone tearing through muscle and skin, damaged, even looks better. Not as dry, and just looking firmer and healthier.

One of the pros of cold showers that I discussed in my first blog entry, is increased blood flow, and the state my legs are in as a result of the accident. I’ll try anything that will help with increased blood flow.

So I’ll be interested to see how it’s looking in another week. I’m taking progressive photos.

Today I hit 4 min and 30 seconds. And that was after face scrub, wash, shampoo and condition. Stand around for a bit. Then it hit me, how to stretch it out to 5 minutes. Shampoo. Rinse and REPEAT. Supposed to repeat right?

Knowing my luck, my shampoo will say.

NO REPEAT FOR YOU!!!

Cold Shower Challenge Day 7

Day 7

Day 7 and I’m starting to enjoy the cold shower.

No, I’m being serious.

My mate, Julian messaged me before I dove in to ask me how I was going with the cold showers.

Going Good, and if you followed my blog you’d know! HMPH!!

He’s following me now. lol.

4 minutes today. Easily. The music wasn’t loud enough for me to shake my booty. Mental note. Turn it up.

But, I had a question for my girlfriend, Emma, afterwards. She’s real. Honest. How the hell do people take 5-minute showers? Or longer? I’m washing my face with my face wash, which I usually do at the basin. I’m washing my sexy body. hahahahahaha. Oh boy, I crack me up….. sorry.

I’m washing my hair, with shampoo and conditioner. Rinsing off. I get out…..

4 minutes and 10 seconds

Are you serious???!!!

Her response was, how the hell do you shower so quickly? Apparently, 10 to 15 minutes is the norm for her.

It made me think, and take away the cold aspect, I’ve always showered quickly. This goes back to my days in the Australian Navy, specifically the 2 years at sea. You had to be quick and efficient. 90-second showers. That was how long you had. That was the rule because fresh water at sea is a finite resource. The ship can only produce X amount of freshwater per day. 140 odd people use a lot of freshwater.

Then I thought further back. Even on base, you are sharing shower facilities with others, and everyone goes to shower around the same time. Except for the crazy people that would get up at 5 am so they could shower in a more relaxed environment.

Then thinking further back. I came from a large family. 6 kids and 2 adults. 1 hot water system. So if you were longer than 5 minutes, Dad would be knocking on the door…

“Don’t use all the hot water! There are other people in this family you know!”

During today’s routine, I was also reminded by my brain of the old joke.

Shampoo? Sham means fake. Why would I want the fake stuff? I want the real poo.